Trick-or-Treating 2020 style: Six tips to safely keep the spirit alive

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Michael ThompsonPublic Health Sciences Associate Professor Michael Thompson offers suggestions to enjoy Halloween during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It used to be that the scares we got during Halloween were all in good fun,” said Thompson. “Now the COVID-19 pandemic has made some frights too terrifyingly real. But like much of the rest of our lives, we can still enjoy Halloween - just in a different way.”

Whether you're on campus or elsewhere, here are some ways to keep the Halloween spirit while protecting your health:

1. A Family Affair

While trick-or-treating typically includes spending time among neighbors, it’s safer to have family-centered events around our own home that limit interaction with others. Keep things lively by having a candy scavenger hunt, decorating cookies, carving pumpkins, or going crazy with Halloween decorations.

2. The Great Outdoors

Consider holding small outdoor events that engage participants while keeping physically distant AND wearing a mask (stay six feet apart, more if shouting, screaming or singing). Keep in mind the state's limitations on outdoor gathering sizes, and that you are encouraged to stay well below them. Additionally, remember the University's restrictions for on-campus gatherings are greater than the state's.

3. Knock it Out

For kids (and adults) the best part of Halloween is the sweet treats. No reason that still can’t be the case! Consider purchasing a piñata and stuffing it with everyone’s favorite pre-packaged candy. It’s sure to be a “hit.”

4. Virtual Insanity

If school can be done via Zoom, almost anything can. No need to squash the fun just because we can’t all gather in person. Consider virtual Halloween parties to host a costume contest, charades or a lip sync battle.

5. Masked Crusader

Whatever Halloween celebrations you choose, follow the same principles we adhere to every day to minimize our exposure to COVID-19 (and our risk of exposing others) including wearing a mask. However, keep in mind costume masks do not provide protection from COVID-19 and shouldn’t be worn over a cloth mask.

6. Bubble Wrap

Every interaction with someone outside our household or social bubble introduces some level of exposure risk. Our goal is to minimize those risks. Avoid large parties and maintain your family and social bubble as much as possible.

Halloween is a time we let our imaginations run wild, so get creative … just don’t violate standard safety principles. Wear a mask that covers your nose, mouth and chin; maintain physical distancing; and practice good hand hygiene. Remember that your actions can impact the health of your peers, neighbors and broader community. We strongly discourage large, unsafe gatherings on and around the UNC Charlotte campus that can put Niner Nation at greater risk. If you witness any activities that violate the Code of Student Responsibility, you can anonymously report these behaviors through the LiveSafe app.

We want to keep Halloween spooky but not terrifying. Let's do this together.

 Michael Thompson is associate professor of Public Health Sciences at UNC Charlotte’s College of Health and Human Services.